Council joins drive for autonomous cars

Oxfordshire County Council is helping to make the vision of driverless cars – a possible solution to managing traffic on the roads in the future – a reality.

The county council is part of a consortium working hard to bring “autonomous vehicles” to UK roads and is now celebrating a multi-million pound award which will help drive the research needed .

The DRIVEN consortium is to receive a £8.6 million grant awarded by Innovate UK with match funding from private sector partners.

London to Oxford journey

The money will fund a very ambitious project that will see a fleet of fully autonomous vehicles being deployed in urban areas and on motorways, culminating in an end-to-end journey from London to Oxford.

The will be operating at Level 4 autonomy – meaning they have the capability of performing all safety-critical driving functions and monitoring roadway conditions for an entire trip with zero-passenger occupancy.

No connected and autonomous vehicle trial at this level of complexity and integration has ever been attempted anywhere in the world.

Connected infrastructure

The county council’s role will be to support the “connected infrastructure” capabilities of this new technology by exploring the scope of the ability of vehicles to communicate with fixed infrastructure such as traffic lights. The council will receive funding from the programme to allow this to happen.

Llewellyn Morgan, Service Manager Infrastructure, Innovation & Development for Communities at the county council, explained: “The project will enhance the county council’s reputation as a leader in intelligent mobility and means that we can take what we learn from this and other projects to benefit other places in Oxfordshire in the future.

“Oxfordshire, as part of the DRIVEN partnership is a leader in the field of Autonomous Vehicles and is firmly part of the change in transport and not waiting for it to happen to us.”

The consortium’s 30-month project plan, which is due to commence in April 2017, will shake-up both the transportation and insurance industries by seeking to remove fundamental barriers to real-world commercial deployment of autonomous vehicles.

The DRIVEN partners

Oxbotica are lead partner for the project as Industrial Lead, other partners include Oxford Robotics Institute, Oxfordshire County Council, Transport for London, re/insurer XL Catlin, Nominet, Telefonica O2 UK, Transport Research Laboratory, the UK Atomic Energy Authority’s RACE, and Westbourne Communications.